Menstrual cups : A review

The lunette menstrual cup: a review

With your favourite receptionist, Elly.

 

If you have indeed had what I can only assume is the immense pleasure of chatting to me recently, you may be aware that I have found a product that I am raving about: The Lunette menstrual cup. If the thought of this is too much for you, I ask you to hold your opinion a little while longer, as I myself turned up my nose upon first hearing the words “Menstrual cup” uttered. How glad I am that I kept an open mind!

We’ll start by describing just what a menstrual cup is. Made as early as the 1930’s, Menstrual cups have been popular in the US and Europe for many decades. The cup itself is made from medical grade silicon, and because it is not porous (like a tampon); it works with the natural anti-bacterial environment of your vagina to keep clean. It will not promote bacterial growth the way a tampon does, so the risk of TSS (toxic Shock Syndrome) is greatly reduced. In fact, there has never been a reported case of TSS being linked to a menstrual cup.  You can wear the cup up to 12 hours, if your flow permits.

It is thought that the push for a reusable, earth friendly cup has not been popular due to the obvious lack of profit to be made – I’ve read blogs from women who have had their cup 10 years. What tampon or menstrual pad company wants you to buy a product once and not 16 products every period?

And this brings us to one of the biggest selling points of the cup: You only need one. Cups will set you back in the region of $60, and I can tell you that being a sufferer of abnormal, heavy, and long periods it has already made its money back, and then some. I haven’t had to purchase bulky, uncomfortable pads in 3 cycles, and I cannot explain how happy this has made me. Because you only need one, your impact on the earth is so much less than using disposable, one use cotton (or other substances) products. There is no packaging, no plastic coatings, no plastic backing, no strips to pull off that get stuck to your shoe or cling to your skirt (we’ve all had that happen at work, right? A nice little piece of paper basically saying “I CAME FROM A PAD!” statically clinging to our thigh?). No strings. No wings. No discomfort.

 

I should also add in here that a lot of menstrual products come complete with a nice helping of chemicals like bleach. And we put these in one of the most sensitive and permeable areas of our body. Treated cotton tampons, full of plastic are sold without much in the way of testing as to levels of chemical absorption. Medical grade silicone, used in the cups, is the same material they make various surgical implants out of (pacemakers, heart valves etc) and can stay in your body pretty much forever without being broken down.

So, how do you use a cup? Imagine what it’s like to put in a tampon, and you’re pretty close. There are a variety of videos on YouTube showing how to fold your cup for insertion: the method will depend on the individual. Personally, I fold down two sides in on itself to create a kind of point – feel free to ask and I will show you on the display models in store (The ‘push down’ fold in the diagram). Because the material is so pliable, you essentially fold it down to the size of about a super tampon or so. You fold it, insert it, wait for the ‘opening’ feeling (One of the only negatives about the cup I can say is sometimes it opens as you’re trying to insert. Annoying!) And you’re good to go! After a few hours (this will vary depending on the heaviness of your flow:  I tend to change it every 4 at my heaviest and about 7 or 8 at my lightest) you use your pelvic muscles to gently push down until you can feel the bottom of the cup: Pinch and pull. You then empty your cup, rinse, and re-insert. Too easy!

Some people may be grossed out by the fact that you can see your blood in the cup. I have to say that I was a bit dubious about how this would feel, after reading on blogs that it made some people feel so much more connected with their bodies, their cycles, and empowered their femininity. I would totally agree now. The cup is less ‘gross’ than a tampon – if any clots are present they are discreetly captured with the rest of the blood, not stuck on the outside of the tampon or pad. There is no mess in public restrooms, no reaching for the sanitary bin and no blood spatters on the inside of the toilet bowl or bin. I find that seeing the amount you are bleeding is a really good indication of how your cycle is going – You know exactly how much blood you’re losing, and it gives you a much more personal feel for your menses. (Although that sounds strange, it is actually somewhat comforting.)

The cups are also perfect for women trying to conceive or are having gynaecological problems. Because the cup is smooth sided and doesn’t suck any of the precious moisture from your vagina, you can wear it when you’re not bleeding – so women who need to measure other vaginal secretions can use the cup without any discomfort. In this same way it’s also fine toward the end of your period, while you may start to bleed less or spot. If you wear the cup whilst spotting then you will never leak or spot on yourself when you think you’ve got nothing left. This reason right here is why I personally cannot live without my cup.

You may be a bit worried about having to put a cup all the way in the way you would a tampon. Truth is, the cup sits so much lower in your vagina it’s nothing like inserting a tampon. I personally hate tampons, I find them uncomfortable and all ‘round icky – the mere thought of them is like nails on a chalkboard. The cup, however, is nothing like a tampon on insertion. If you want to demonstrate to yourself where the cup sits, make an “o” with your thumb and second finger. This is your vaginal opening. Now, from the bottom put your other index finger into the hole. This is generally how far up you need to push a tampon. Now, imagine the cup sitting right at the opening of the hole. See the difference? Instead of  pushing in as far as your uterus, extending from the top of the finger, the cup sits comfortably just over the opening of the vagina. I’ll show you some pictures to help illustrate.

(pictures won’t work in the blog: Contact us on Facebook to ask for the article)

 

I think I’ve covered most of the basics here, and as you can see, every point I make is another reason I love my cup. Not only do I feel I’m doing the environment a favour, but I’m doing myself a favour too. ONE NOTE OF CAUTION: Don’t wash your cup in anti-bacterial wash. Don’t do it. You’ll get thrush. I learned the hard way, and I even made sure to rinse what I thought was any trace of any wash off. Best thing is to rinse it between insertion and re-insertion and boil it for a few minutes between your cycles. I’ve read blogs of women who have been using their cup for 10 years or more; if you look after it, it will surely last a while. If you don’t feel that you want to use a cup for 10 years, changing it every 1-3 years will still save you a bucket load of cash, not to mention the earth.

Do yourself a favour. I promise you won’t regret it.

For any other questions, tips or tricks please don’t hesitate to ask Elly at reception at anytime. You can reach me by email if you like, at Rosalba@albatherapies.com.au – just put “for Elly” in the title. There is also HEAPS of information on the net – blogs, product websites and youtube videos.

Edible Skincare!

It’s coming to the time of year when everyone stops and breathes – for at least 10 minutes anyway. For those of you lucky enough to have a few minutes to yourselves (or better yet, the ability to share this time with good friends!), it’s time for an all-natural pampering. Rustle up some of your closest friends, a bottle of wine (remember : red is FULL of antioxidants) and a DVD or some peaceful music and raid your pantry. JULIE CONSTANTINE brings you these awesome home-made skin care recipes.

Basic Cleansing Oil Formula

The shelf life of this oil is pretty much as long as the oil doesn’t smell “off” (or rancid). It should keep a couple of months or longer if you use Olive oil, store in an airtight jar and keep in a dark place.

Combine:
6 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 Tablespoons vegetable oil of choice
6 drops of Antibacterial essential oil, Such as lavender or rosemary

Add ingredients to a jar (with a lid that can be secured tightly) and shake to blend. Dab a little onto your fingertips and massage onto your face. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

Adzuki bean and Rice flour Scrub

This facial scrub is a nice, gently way to exfoliate the skin. Ground shells like walnut or almond can be too abrasive or harsh on the skin, so the ground adzuki bean makes a much smoother supplement.

Soak the adzuki beans until tender, and grind with rice flower to make a pasty scrub. You can use this as a facial mask, or as a scrub – or add it in with your favourite cleanser to really exfoliate those dead skin cells!

Honey, Avocado and Oatmeal Nourishing Exfoliating Facial Mask

You will need one Avocado, some honey and oatmeal for this recipe. It couldn’t be simpler!
Blend the flesh of half an avocado (the rest can be used to snack on!) into a paste. Add in 3 tablespoons of raw, coarse oatmeal and 2 tablespoons of clear honey. Mix into a thick paste so that it does not drip. If the mixture is too thin or runny, add more oatmeal until it is thick.

Take 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture and apply to a damp face. Massage gently in circles, never pulling down on the face. Concentrate on problem areas, such as the T-zone. Once your face has warmed up, stop and leave for about 10 minutes. A perfect time to read that next chapter! Or munch on the other half of the avocado. When the mask is cool, rinse with warm water, massaging gently.

This mask is very rich and nourishing, PERFECT for that dry after winter skin. If you wish to use it more frequently, massage into the skin only once. This treatment is not suitable for oily or acne prone skin.

This should be the right amount for 3 uses, so keep the remaining mask in an airtight container in the fridge. This will last for about 10 days.

NATURAL EYE CARE

Cucumber Eye Mask

This would have to be the most well known and most widely used methods of eye nourishment. Place a thin slice of cold cucumber over each eye and relax for 15-20 minutes. This helps calm the eyes and reduce darks circles.

Tea Bag Eye Mask
The next time you make tea; don’t just bin the tea bags. Lightly squeeze out the remaining liquid and place the tea bag in a container in the refrigerator. Use on the eyes when they are tired, and revive them! Or use on bruised eyes – this works very well.

A Gentle Detox

Leading up to and after the ‘silly season’ is a GREAT time to cleanse our bodies of all the gunk of the past year – and will help us to process all the coming attributes of this time of year. Marney Murray has an easy way to cleanse your system – turning away from all these unhealthy quick fixes we see so often.

There are several benefits from a gentle cleanse, including: A feeling of lightness and more energy, More mental clarity and ease of getting up earlier (the sun and the birds are up earlier now too), Release of the stiffness felt as the liver clears acids from the tendons and ligaments, And a boosted immune function and prevention of minor complaints – like summer flu, sinusitis, sluggishness and winter weight gain.

How long will it take, and what is required?
This is designed to be a gentle cleanse, so to not disturb your body – it take 2 weeks. One week to shift your diet to a cleansing one, and one week of doing the same with more focus.

  • Enthusiasm at the fantastic results that await you!
  • A departure from alcohol
  • Abstinence from animal products, including dairy products.
  • A reduction or removal of tea and coffee
  • Abstinence from refined flour and sugar products i.e. Commercial breads and cakes.
  • You will require patience and gentleness with yourself. If you eat something that is not beneficial, don’t scold yourself. Acknowledge it and just keep going!
  • Also listening to your body and resting adequately.
  • You will find you have more energy if you do a gently walk, stretch, or both everyday.

Ingredients List

You will need: A bag of lemons, (one for each day). Spirulina, powder or tablet form (powder is preferred), Fresh fruits and vegetables (esp. Leafy greens and seasonal produce), Sprouts of any kind – snow pea, alfalfa, etc. (Sprouted bread is okay to eat during a cleanse), Beans (dried or tinned), tofu, tempeh, meat alternatives and Whole grains, such as brown rice, millet and pearl barley.

Method

  • Plan the dates of your cleanse so you can have your pantry and fridge stocked. Also it gives your time to become mentally prepared and enthusiastic about the results you will achieve. Begin whenever you like, I tend to shop on a Saturday and cook staples Sunday, then officially begin Monday.
  • Prepare some foods that will keep for a day or two, like bean and rice patties or zucchini fritters. Try things that may be new to your cooking repertoire, as these can be good to snack on or combine with main meals of fresh leafy greens and vegies prepared on the day.
  • Every morning, squeeze half to one lemon and have it in water before you eat or drink anything. This helps the liver to cleanse and the lemon becomes alkaline in the body, which is essential to help clear acids from the tendons and muscles and support your flexibility.
  • If you are getting a thick tongue coating in the morning, your digestive organs are cleansing themselves. You can scrape the coating off with a teaspoon and rinse your mouth with water. (You can do this before your lemon juice).
  • With tea and coffee, be gentle with yourself. Reduce slowly or you may get a detox headache. This is a very gentle cleanse, not a strong detox, so I would suggest reducing your intake ASAP and during the first week bring your consumption down to 1 cup per day, until you feel you no longer need it.
  • One or two teaspoons of Spirulina in juice or water per day. If you have never tried Spirulina start with half to one teaspoon, as it is very nutritious and a cellular cleanser in its own right. The Spirulina is essential for energy during ‘the cleanse’, especially if you are going to continue working. The protein in Spirulina has digestive absorption that is four times greater than in beef. A teaspoon of Spirulina is equivalent to 36 g of beef!(Available in most health food shops)
  • Leafy greens! Add them to most of your meals. Lettuce, Rocket, Baby Spinach, English spinach, Bok choi or Pak Choi, and herbs, like fresh parsley, basil, mint, oregano… yum! Seasonal vegies like asparagus, snow peas and beans are delicious right now! Crunch!!
  • Most foods can be lightly steamed, poached, boiled or baked. If you are particularly robust or have ‘heat’, you can eat more raw foods (see your practitioner to clarify ‘heat’)
  • If you are tired or are cleansing mucous from your system, eat lightly cooked foods and avoid dairy. Mucous can manifest as runny nose, sinusitis, asthma, allergies, Candida, excess weight and thick tongue coating.
  • Beans need to be soaked. If you are using dried beans, you will need to acidulate them (soak them in water with half a lemon for 8 hours). Do this in the morning before you go to work, drain them off and put fresh water in and cook for around 1 hour when you return home at night, or on the weekend. When soft, strain and put in an air tight container. Add to salads or other recipes. They also freeze well. By doing this you will increase the digestibility of beans and avoid uncomfortable gas!
  • You may continue with your standard multi vitamins or vitamin C. Flaxseed oil or fish oil supplement can also be continued as they are essential fatty acids. Colloidal Minerals are an excellent way to boost the minerals of the bones while you cleanse your organs and tissues.
  • Drink plenty of pure water, and experiment with herbs and teas to keep your fluid intake up. Green tea can be a gentle alternative to reducing your caffeine from tea and coffee as it also contains small amounts.
  • Enjoy the experience, experiment with new recipes, encourage your family and friends to eat some of your healthy new foods options!

If at any time you need any help or have any questions, make an appointment with your practitioner and we can help you work out a detox that’s right for you, and help with herbs and teas and information!. Don’t hesitate to call us! (07 3843 3555)